I'm still Miles.
I'm sitting here trying to come up with interesting things to write about, but nothing that's come to mind has much "snap". Here's what I've though of writing about so far:
- Review of the Sci Fi Channel Original Movie Deathlands: Homeward Bound (They spent time and money on cinematography instead of shit-tastic CGI like most Sci Fi Channel movies; also Traci Lords is now known as Traci Elizabeth Lords so you won't accidentally watch one of her serious acting roles expecting it to be porno.)
- Cocaine. (Cokeheads: At parties, why do you need to use the bathroom, which many other people need to use for going to the bathroom, to have your little cokefests? It can't be because you're trying your little coke party on the DL, because I'm pretty sure there's only a couple of things a group of five people heading into the bathroom together have on their agenda [hint: Going to the bathroom is at the bottom of the list. Number two on the list is bathroom orgy.]. I understand if you don't want people trying to scam free drugs off of you, but there's a time in every person's life where they have to grow up and say, "Dude, I'm sorry but you cannot have any of my cocaine." Just do the shit in the middle of the party and you'll earn the respect of everyone who has to pee.)
- The Battle Of The Two Andy Warhols. (Once I went to a Halloween party dressed as Andy Warhol. There was a guy I didn't know dressed as Andy Warhol. We spent the party passive-aggressively trying to out-Andy each other. My hair looked more convincingly wiglike and I had a Polaroid. He had brought a stack of Interview magazines that he was autographing and handing out. He tried to give me an autograph. The situation got ridiculously close to a fight. The lesson: only shallow people who have to be the center of attention dress as Andy Warhol for Halloween.)
I want to say that I can't believe I sat through a movie called Deathlands: Homeward Bound, but then again I know myself better than that.
It's Miles again.
I finally did it.
For months one of my life goals, one of the top five things to accomplish while living in Chicago has been to conquer the insurmountable surliness of the Rainbo's famed badass bartender Kenny. Kenny of the crippling sneer. Kenny of the icey stare. Kenny doesn't like anybody. I decided that I would make Kenny by buddy. And get him to buy me a beer. I worked him over for the better part of a year, complimenting him on the mix cds he brings into the bar (which, honestly, dude has some good taste) and tipped well. The months of effort paid off last night when I went into the bar with my new haircut and was greeted by Kenny actually busting up laughing for real. "Oh my god," Kenny said as he composed himself. "Good job. What do you want?"
I ordered a Pabst. He brought it over to me with the cryptic comment, "You're a citizen now," and refused to take my money. With that gesture I acheived the status of Level Nine Chicago Scenester (+8 ennui, +5 slack posture, 12 point upgrade to my Cloak Of Obscure Music References To Hide My Own Insecurities).
Today I cast a Spell of Namedropping that got me into the studio where I got to listen to some of the newly recorded Joan Of Arc material and jesus, man. Tim Kinsella's the only person in indie rock consistantly searching for new ways to be a genius and succeeding on an shockingly regular basis. Comparing your own music to his is enough to make you want to quit your band, which is probably a good idea anyway.
Sorry I didn't come through with the promised entry yesterday. I had important things to do. Cutting off all of my hair and getting drunk. Maybe not important things, but things. I cut my hair (grown out over the course of two years to reach the status, according to Jim Magas, of "longhair") because of a combination of general life-makeover issues, hanging out with my friend Morgan (who constantly has inspiringly good hair), and Nick Zinner's perfect hair day on the cover of this month's Spin. The drinking was because I'm getting close to the expiration date on the post-breakup grace period where you're allowed to get stupid drunk on a Tuesday night for no reason without your friends thinking you're an alcoholic; you're just heartbroken.
Did I ever tell you about Purple Dave?
Purple Dave was a longtime fixture in Kamalazoo's music scene. Over-tanned with long, fried hair, Purple Dave showed up at all the shows. He was famous for being Purple Dave and he had permanent guest list everywhere in town. After your show Purple Dave would come up to you and make a comment about your guitar tone. "You've got good tone," he'd say. Purple Dave had a lisp damaging enough to inflect not only his esses, but his eths and (improbably) his evs, and he was obsessed with good tone. Dave engaging you in conversation involved sitting through repetitious diatribes about good tone sparked occasionally by non sequitur sexual confessions. "You ever suck a man's dick? Don't do it. It's awful."
Purple Dave was famous for wearing purple, often purple spandex, and for a personality that reflected spending the 80s mixing mild schizophrenia with serious, omniverous drug abuse. His combination of mental illness and narcopsychedelic damage made him a walking metaphor for Kalamazoo, the former home of a state mental hospital (and current home to hundreds of wandering former patients phasing between halfway homes and the streets) and the halfway point on the 1-94 drug corridor between Chicago and Detroit and on into Canada. Kalamazoo is a small town, but you can find every kind of dementia, organic or chemical, you can imagine.
The 1980s were apparently a magical time for Dave. He wore spandex and a crazed head of frizzy hair for years after the rock stars he emulated moved on. He made music, and a couple of guys from the bar he hung out at the most started a Wesley Willis-like showcase/freakshow band with him. The Purple Dave Experience, obviously. Dave played guitar and sang and wrote the songs. The music that Dave made (best song: "I Need A Woman, Not A Wife") sounded more like Captain Beefheart than Ratt, but you knew that in Dave's mind his shit was straight off the Sunset Strip, right after Crue got big but before GNR happened. His number one idol of all time was Lita Ford. He wanted to be her. Sometimes during one of his schizo episodes he'd start dressing like her. If you saw Purple Dave around often enough as he entered one, you could see the Lita Fordization happen stop-motion style as you saw him night after night at the bar over the course of days or a week. He'd go from regular Dave costume into outfits that involved a little more spandex into makeup, and every once in a while it would go all the way into Dave wandering around in a way-too-big dress, looking like Lita Ford only to himself, but I never saw that happen.
Usually by the time he'd get that far into the schiz someone, and I never knew exactly who, would get Dave some help and make him take his meds. Usually it would work out fine. Not too long before I moved out of town he went too far out. The dress-up/breakdown peaked out with Dave having the cops called on him after being spotted wandering naked around someone's yard at nine in the morning. He got put in a hospital for a little bit to get some work done on his psyche. A couple of days into lockup he called the bar where the Purple Dave Experience played and they guys working there offered to come down and visit. They asked him if he wanted them to bring anything.
"A couple of soft tacos from Taco Bell. And a Diet Mountain Dew."
Call me tinyluckyjoeybishop.
It's Miles again, guestblogging for the tinyluckyrockstar while she's away in Japan buying me presents and playing rock shows.
In a couple of minutes I have to go give up eight more hours of my life to the retail Man, so I'll have to wait until this evening to post any of my own genius.
We'll chat later.
Tonight, when we left practice, it started flash flooding, heat lightning and thunder, water up over the curb in under 20 minutes. Al gave me a ride home, and the wipers synched up in time with the tape in the deck, and the world seemed to shift a little. It did not stop the war, but it was an okay thing.
Today, my primary client - who has been my employer in large for the last nine years, let me go, in part due to my touring. This saves me the hassle of quitting. I am sad not to be working with all the bands -- though, this being the label that the band I play in is on -- I may get to keep representing my own band, none the less.
I freaked out for about seven minutes, as I have never been fired before. I thought about a quote from a Robert Bly interview that was in the new age magazine on the plane - about how losing a job is great opportunity. Fucking A right. I have been waiting 11 years to go down to part-time.
Now, finally , like the rest of my friends, I am a barely employed touring musician that writes on the side.
Before practice, I went over to the band house, to learn Milemarker songs (Sex Jam1 and Sex Jam2) for Japan, as per our Japanese promoter. Milemarker is "popular" in Japan, Challenger is not -- and so away we ride on gilded coattails all the way to Osaka. We leave Sunday. Al gave me a matted photgraph he got at a thrift store for me today -- a still of the phrase "DREAMS COME TRUE" written in the sand, about to be erased (ominous foreshadowing or meta-statement on American consumerism?) by a foaming wave. It's the sort of present you might get a 17 year old girl for getting a National Merit Scholarship, or maybe the sort of person who has like, kleenex box cozies... I carried it around with me all day and whenever someone would ask how I was doing -- I just flashed them the picture.
I will say this much: Coming home from tour, from unstructurable days within the Econoline womb, from the constant company of the same half dozen folks, from the band business chatter and life stories, the 85 mph drift through the great plains, from the unflattering lights and putrid smells of gas station bathrooms, from sleeping bag bedrooming... it is strange and anxiety inducing. I now know why people spend months and years never settling home. It's like being drop shipped into another vortex of life, even though this one I have -- all post office visits, real bed sleep, house key deployment, ringing phones and easy email access and familiar faces -- is so sweet and well worn, it is fucking strange. I keep checking my pockets because I feel like something is missing or not right.
Also in other news, neither myself nor Julianne got into Columbia for the fall. No school this time for us. We are taking it as a sign that we should be seeking joint editorship at Honey Magazine or the like. Book deal proposals are also welcome. We got ideas to split brain pans like ripe melons. If you are reading this, and are in charge of a substantial arts endowment fund, Hit it or Quit it is soliciting deep pocketed infusion in order to become the dominating force in music journalism and fulfill it's fanzine-destiny as the missing link 'tween Ego Trip and Bikini Kill #2. Walking through a barnes and Noble last week and seeing that the Women's Interest section is nothing but guides deep-tanned anorexia, hot handbags for summer, 47 hot new decorating ideas and perfect white weddings has again refocused my vision. WOMENS INTEREST? Fuck that with 50 feet of garden hose, dog.
Hit it or Quit it #18 is on the rise, young and restless.
I was going to give you all some deep dome stylings about how being in the van is like being in the space shuttle, eternal orbit of real life. My boyf., the beautiful genius who makes his living trafficking in extended metaphor, he says using a metaphor about van life as space shuttle is not okay at all when your band is named after the space shuttle which blew up. Meanwhile, I am already hard at work on a metaphor about playing shows and the ocean. Possibly involving sea turtles, krill and Costeau, lil' Nemo and wet suits. Or not.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, tour. I am on tour. I think we have played four shows since Pittsburgh. I was busy working on making work in the van loft to etch all of Appalachias verdancy to the internal hard drive. These things I know as true:
YORK PA - YOUTH CENTER VENUE
1. I got called 'faggot" for the first time in my life, while walking down the street in York. Two sunburnt speed freaks in a red t top and I engaged in some extended, yet tepid staring down at a light. My pigtails are a dead give away of my faggotry, and I am surprised it has taken this long for someone to bring it up.
2. The youth center had pool tables, hot dog and pop concessions and slate grey carpet stained from swet from the furrowed brows of hardcore bands and illicit grindings from their all ages Latin dancing weekly all ages club night. We asked for less light (take the Rent-a-Center vibe out a little) and had them turn on the $29 disco ball/party lights scheme someone got from PartyTown or where ever people buy wacky shit to decorate their dorm room... Al was on fire, a one man pit, moving the mic to the center of the audience, all zealously soloing and wiggling. You know how fucking hard it is to compete with Al? I have been throwing in the occasional foot-on-monitor/ windmilling arm on "Blackouts" -- but then I look over and Al is on his knees on top of the amp, doing hammerons with one hand and pointing vindictively with the other, or deep throating the mic and pounding on the stage like he's trying to jump into another vortex. And not like some bad band that does the shit for yucks, some like, Paris Texas style Foriegner/hairmetal irony. Al is for fucking real.
3. This is the only night on the 27 day tour that anyone got close to giving the bands their rider-requests. Tofurkey slices, motherfucker. Yes.
4. We stayed with the promoter, who is maybe 14 or 27 - no idea. He lives on a palacial wooded retreat, his family home. Tennis courts converted into a mini skate park, ample room for all 31 of us to stay in the basement. There was a game of hackey sack and I am super beyond proud to mention NO MEMBERS OF CHALLENGER BAND OR CREW HACKEYED. Most of the boys hung out getting drunk in the From Ashes van, listening to QOTSA and male bonding. I walked in circles in the driveway on the phone. Thomas from Strike gave myself and Steve from Breather nicknames: "The Phone Ghosts" -- always around, but never hanging out, always on the phone. I have also started calling our van "the Phonebooth" - as we have more cell phones than the rest of the bands.
5. I fell asleep to the sounds of about 11 boys snoring, and Darren Walters, Jade Tree Co-Owner regaling us with the frightful story of losing his virginity, as well as his on going debate of "who's got better ass - italian girls or spanish girls?". That conversation is second only to "Best Line Up of Black Flag" debate, which I heard about 11 times so far this tour. My contribution to the debate -- ever since I read in Joe Cole's Planet Joe tour diaries about Rollins fucking a girl (groupie?) after a show, and then while she slept, jerking off on her hair and leaving in a fit of laughter... like, I super did not give a fuck about Black Flag before, but that exiled him into riot girl jail. Keith Morris v. Rollins? Robo vs. the other dude? I cannot conjur a flying fuck on that.
1. First show at a new club, the only club in town. They were still sodering the wires and everything together when we loaded in. They had some homemade pa and monitor set ups - speaker cables and pressboard. DIY home depot style.
2. The audience at this show was all 78 kids in West Virginia who know what punk is. Polling found that only 4 of the kids in the audience were from Huntington, the rest had driven and biked from 2-4-6 hours away -- including kids from Ohio. I did my best to give them the best bassing I could, christening the stage.
3. Audience members were mostly music enthusiasts in the blending stage. Like, as punk as you can get and still pass. Pass for "skater" but not for "fag", or "raver reform" or "into metal" but not "weird", "goth" or "dyke"... ie. 11 yr old kids in CKY shirts, a girl with a middle part and a COBAIN RIP bootleg shirt and a tiny gold cross, a Lagwagon shirt offset by phat shorts, cowboy hats and flip flops pacing the pit during From Ashes, church shirts with the sleeves cut off, all black outfits from WalMart's Jr. Miss department, extra earrings, all patches homemade with marker because there is no place to buy them in a 5 hour radius . The real punk soul of America is a live and well and crying to itself under the bleachers while ditching class at Roosevelt High in Nitro, WV.
4. Driving through West Virginia seems like it could give you cancer just by looking at it hard. Nuclear powerplants abundant, and factorial industry belching monoxides into the sky ev-er-y where.
1. I was sweating so profusely my clothes became transparent and I had to rub/blow my hands dry 3x during the 25 minute set because I could barely play they were so wet. Richmond is Strike's hometown, and was our biggest crowd yet.
2. Andrew Beaujon , celebrity journalist was in attendance. Last seen with his shirt off, waving it above his heaqd ala Petey Pablo's instructions, doing the "pickin up change / lawnmower" in the circle pit during Strike's set. Impending fatherhood has the man living with a venegeance.
Tomorrow is Chapel Hill, non Jade Tree show benefit for Mike Tripplett from Fing Fang Foom and his 300,000$ medical bill from spinal meningitis... then final night - DC. PS> If anyone knows where I can get my hands on an American Flag bikini in either of these cities, hit me up.
(three updated days coming tomorrow)
5/11/04 10:29am EST Pittsburgh PA – Squirrel Hill Area, 61c Café
Pittsburgh is a fine place. Here, early summer perfection is upon us: coverless sleep at last. Last night we played at The World, which is mussssh fancier and clean than we are used to. It’s in the fruit market district, amidst warehouses of wine grapes for auction and trucks that say American Banana . The sides of the club are big glass garage doors, which they left open during the show. The World is also next to Costume World ("where Halloween hangs out all year long") – where in vain we looked for accountrements to spice up our collective look. I was partial to the fake blood and a pair of wings made from an American Flag. Dave kept handing me peglegs and hook hands to tease me. Noah’s brother told us that he has been following the tour via various message boreds and says that there is more about "the girl in Challenger who dresses up like a pirate" than anything about our actual band performances. For anyone doubting, for anyone hitting the blogs and the message boards, im’ing through the world: . I had a prescription for that eye patch.
The show was awesome. The lone Challenger super fans, who last made an appearance in Cleveland – they of wild enthusiasm and unbitter teenager years – hit us with their wild dancing in the front row, the between song cheering… and this time they brought girls. I looked over towards the end of our first song, and there were two phenom punk-dorky ladies punching the air, and bad dancing, and rocking out and laughing. I got really excited because I have been those girls for the last 12 years. And, while I normally am excited about there being girls at the show, I was extra glad they were there because lots of times girls are towards the back, or if they are towards the front, they are being hugged from behind by a dude. #1 Look for a girl at out show – Anti-Flag t-shirt / wrapped in the limbs of a boy. Not to shit on Anti-Flag fans, because lord knows, at 14, I was into questionable shit.
After the show, Al and I walked around, eventually trespassed through some razor wire and walked around a marina. I schooled him on some rock skipping technique, which devolved into seeing just how far we could throw the rocks. The Heinz57 factory was across the river, and all downtown was yellow’d with night-light, and Pittsburgh seemed much more soft and picturesque than anyone ever gives it credit for being.
Also, Al and I discussed that when standing next to any body of water, the overwhelming impulse is always to jump in.
5/10/04 2:13 am EST , Pittsburgh PA, Noah’s dads house
This morning I was devirginized by Waffle House and it’s syrupy legazy. Waffle House, staple of the southern road diet, formerly just a curiousity to me, now sits at the top of my list for trash food. Al and I sat at the counter and watched a girl who was clearly, at one time, the most popular girl in her high school – wide set deer eyes fluttering in the grill heat, artificial blond mane ponytail hanging most of the way to her ass, lanky arms pressing the handle of the waffle makers dutifully. Her mom, maybe her aunt, cousin -–a woman who looked like a very tired version of the girl, she was our waitress. The girl sighed the sighs of someone who failed to get out. They floated to us over the jukebox’s strain of "House of The Rising Sun." She looked like a Disney drawing of a girl, but sort of sad and shunted and stunned. Al and I wished that we were Hollywood agents, modeling scouts – something, so we could fairy tale her – "Girl, You have the look we are searching for…" and take her from short order hell to some faraway from Kentucky heaven.
At the Waffle House, we met two Brooklynites who were make a documentary about our soon to be label mates, Lucero. Lucero are a fine fine fine band. I talked to them and watched the man with the glasses tell me about the shows while he mawed some sort of a breakfast steak that was the size and shape of his plate. Grey pink with ribbing down the middle. The jukebox played "Hotel California" and it felt too raunchy for even a 24 hour establishment.
Back into the space shuttle, and I rode shotgun. Kentucky is unaspiringly beautiful. I put on the goggles (a favorite van accoutrement) and stuck my head out the window like a dog. I watched for opposums in the trees and lady truck drivers and said a prayer for every kid that every wanted to go on tour, for every girl that wanted to see Kentucky, for every kid that ever wanted to get the fuck out of here. It’s really magical and green here, but it’s also the sort of place where sitting on a porch swing is a past time for a lot of people.
In Kentucky, I saw a lot of black barns. They were ominous and charred looking. I did not wanted to look at them, they were that sort of spooky, and I wondered why they did not make it to being red. I suggested one of the songs on the new ep be called "Black Barn", since my idea about a 14 minute epic about a world wide animal war will not happen because – get this – the last Milemarker record was slated to be that and it was Roby’s idea and if they did that without her, she would be pissed. I would hate to piss off Roby. Maybe "Black Barn" will just have to be an epic about the history of horses and two queer teenage girls that escape from their rural confines on stolen Appaloosas, never to be heard from again. Or maybe it will become the first Little Boy song. Little Boy, so far, is me and Julianne. Al said that the plot for "Black Barn" is essentially 100 different Team Dresch songs. Whatever. Ours will be an epic dirge, with lots of dramatic mid-song dialogue, like that one Runaways song where they escape from some sort of girls reform school and Joan ( or maybe Sandy) falls asunder, trapped and tired in some... tumbleweeds or a ditch and yells "CHERIE! I can't go on!" and she yells " You MUST!" and then someone, muted, quizzically says "But I can't leave you.. leave you... leave you.." into an echoplex abyss -- sirens begin to wail and the GALLOPPING GUITAR SOLO THAT SUGGESTS THEY ALL PERISH IN FIERY GLORY! If you would like to contribute dialogue, tympany or realistic horse samples to Black Barn, you, dear reader, are welcome.
I got to drive from Cincy to Columbus. We opened tonight, since Breather is regional. We played on a stage that was about 5’5 tall. Since it was 6:30 pm and I was not feeling particularly "rockin’", I just stared down the entire crowd, one person at a time. To reiterate, I do not willfully support or accept the heirarchy of the stage. Breather Resist set up on the floor, because the actively reject the stage. They were awesome. They sound like this - DUJJJJH DUHJJJJGGG RE-OOOH JUHD JUHD JUHD (pause) REOOOR - as loud as you can imagine those sounds. 3 speakers and 2+ heads a peice. I love that shit.
Steve, the singer for Breather, spoke candidly, again tonight before the last song about that the song was about enduring a lifetime of abuse, and advocated people in the audience, if they know someone who is being abused, if they know a child who is being abused, to call the authorities because chances are, that kid is way to fucking scared of the repercussions, of being beaten or whatever, to ever tell anyone what was going on.
I started crying on the spot. I cried for the rest of the set.
I cried for Steve, who is still so totally a kid, at 22, turning himself inside out onstage. For his merciless kid-life.
After they got done playing, he and I walked to get food and talked about it. Before Louisville, he had never said anything on stage, and now the floodgates are open. I told him that if he’s willing to open himself up, to take that risk on stage, to refuse to deny what happened to him, it’s going to impact the other kids in the audience who know that reality, kids that are isolated by the nature of their childhoods, by secrets and silence. I encouraged him to keep doing it, being as real as he needs or wants to be with the audience about all of it. He said he just does not want anyone to think he's talking about it because he wants attention.
That broke my heart.
This kid, he is all baby faced, shaggy hair and nervous smiles, endless waredrobe of black hardcore t-shirts. He smiles and laughs and jumps around on stage like the rest of us, I am in awe of his resiliance, because if I was him, I’d be in jail already, shanking my cellmates with a sharpened toothbrush just for the fuck of it, I think.
After the show, drove to Pittsburgh, the land of our drummer, Noah's people. Where we are now.
5/7/04 7:17 pm CST Suburb of Indianapolis
Tonights show has been moved yet again, to the garage of some kid’s house which we were told was "150 capacity". The decorating scheme of the house is entirely hxc flyer wallpaper and mid-80’s Playboy’s. There are maybe 38 people here, counting the bands. The kid said that he has never done a show before, and despite all of his neightboors being elderly, that he is under a belief that if the show is over by nine pm, no one can legally complain. The first band has been playing for 40 minutes despite the show needing to over in about another hour and 15 minutes, they are some crust punk kids in black hoodies, and they play black BC Rich guitars that have no cases. Everyone is so positive that the cops will show momentarily that none of us Jade Tree bands have "loaded in" to the three car venue. Our time here so far has been fun none the less – I jocked out with Breather Resist and partook in some whiffle ball – until too many cars were parked on the lawn to play. The highlight though was watching Matt Smith and Thomas from Strike learn songs for the accoustic show they are doing –they were learning "Guns of Brixton" and Replacements "Bastards of Young" – from tab they printed off the internet. I feel like I am in a really great movie about punk rock sometimes, tonight is one of them.
Last night was St. Louis, and was our best show of the tour. After we played Al said "I think we’re finally starting to be a good band." It was about 95 degrees on stage, and I felt like I was in Fugazi I sweat so much.The flyers, tags and stickers for bands in the club were incredible: Anal DEA being the clear winner. Desacrated Pussy, Pissing Razors, Feable Weiner, Menstrual Tramps (with anarchy signs in the A’s), The Irate Omish, Pat Sajak Assassins, Chaw Bacon all coming in tied for second. Also a startling conglom of eem poemic names: Scars of Tomorrow, Once a Hero, Remebering Never, Leaving Autumn and lastly (cringe here) New Autumn Morning Weather, which actually sounds like a soothing sounds workout tape for old people that power-walk. (Also, addendum to the Iowa show, where Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes was playing the next night with local stalwarts Flaccid Trip.)
The club is situated amidst the heart of downtown. Downtown which is all ornate turn of the century 4-story brick boom and ancient industry headquarters gone Beirut. The industry used to be the river, then the breweries, and now – judging by the fact that all day parking down town is a mere $4, and half the buildings windows are knocked out, open, stained by fire, patina or rust, hemmoraging bricks from it’s fronts and sides; there is nothing. St. Louis felt like Detroit, but Detroit seems to have accepted it’s post-boom decline as perma-steez after the last 30 years of continual economic death smear. St. Louis seems like one day someone will just buy it up and bulldoze it and it’ll be nothing but silos billowing mysterious smoke and piles of ruble patrolled by gov’t manufactured rat/robot hybrid machines. It will never rise again as a city.
In other news, we have been rejoined by our Teutonic cameraman, Sebastian, who is making the euro-DVD. Turns out he does not hate me. In Albany, he set the camera up inside the door way of the hotel room, and left and got coffee, taping us as I made fun of his baffling choices regarding what he shoots (20 minutes of establishing shots outside the club, soundchecks, traffic from the van, us sitting in silence) and what he does not (the shows, anything funny) – he says that me making fun of him, then realizing that the camera is on, is actually the best footage of tour thus far, and so he cannot hate me.
5/8/04 11:23 am CST Backyard of Indianapolis hostess
Al just told us an amusing story: in high school he worked at a movie theatre in South Square Mall in Durham. His co-worker was a hip-hop enthusiast who went by the name Tha Funkee Phantom . Every shift they would argue aboout what the best drum beat ever made was.
Last nights show was the punkest show of the tour. Everyone ended up playing, no cops came, there were about 100-plus kids packed into the garage -- during From Ashes set, the windows were steamed up. There was a kid with face tattoos in the front row while we played, super enthusiastic, who had ridden his bike 50 miles to the show. It made me think about if there were any bands, people or ideas I would ride 50 miles to partake in or witness. After last night, I am wishing the rest of the tour was house shows, basements, garages, VFWs. It was still kind of weird through, with all the colorful multitudes of merch piling in the drive way. Strike have nine shirts, Breather have six, FAR has I think five, we have one design in two colors. Darren from Jade Tree slapped the big Jade Tree banner to the side of the kids house. That seemed wrong to me.
I sat on the pool table and read Kissing in Manhattan and was mad because I did not like "The Smoker" like I thought I should. Went back to Adria's house, sat on her porch, rolled cigarettes, drank tea, read most of her Karen Finley book, talked on the cell phone with the love of my life until the phone died. I had horrible dreams all night, one where Darren who owns jade Tree was my pimp -- except as a prostitute, I did not have to sleep with men -- just acquiese to them, just play dumb, play shy, quiet and pliable. The only way out of it was an arranged marriage with Dan Yemin, the singer from Paint it Black. He said he would do it, so I could be free. The other possible way out was for me and Al to buy this house, this huge house like a German castle, and hide away from all of it - the marriage, the servitude. Karen Finley was the real estate agent, and she was beautiful and graceful like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. I ran after her and asked, but she would not tell me how much it cost to live there. She was topless and incredibly free.
I woke up from my other dreams, clapping, in hopes of getting someone's attention so they would wake me up. I had been crying in the dream and could not wake up.
5/9/04 10:24 am EST, 3rd floor of Ryan Patterson’s house, Louisville KY
Last night we stayed with Ryan, who runs Initial. His house is three floors of pristine new construction condo styles with a daring mix of weight benches and pastel-pillowed ratan couches and hardcore posters.
Last nights show was at the old Keswick Democratic Club, which now is used to primarily host a bi-weekly Chicken Fry, some bingo and the plethora of loud as fuck post hardcore bands that constitute an industry here. The kids in Louisville all look like Breather Resist, shoulder length mop, lite bearding.The women of Louisville are exceptionally foxy, across the board.
The show was pretty fantastiic. Collisuem opened and they were a wall of bristling post hardcore. We played and some kids danced. Not like punk-style, but rather a formalized swing, a little side to side, a little intentional steps of the feet, with partner – after Al talked about being 22 and giving himself over to being in a touring band as long as he coould, thinking he could make it to maybe 25, and that he will be 33 this year, and dedicated "Unemployment" to the young hopeful and old stragglers alike. Noah also did a minute long drum solo to honor the passing of Elvin Jones, his favorite drummer, and he got on mic and explained that Jones great was not just in his playing but in his philanthropy. I played a little sloppy because it was so hot, the sweat made my hands stick and my fingers slide wrongly. Al played a solo while walking on his knees – amongst the dancing people. There were a lot of girls at the show, a lot of girls in the front row, all smiling at each other. Last night felt like giving back. Club shows feel like being on TV.
I sat outside after our set, watching the teen-kids make out on each others, boys gossip about bands, girls gossip about drugs. I read Karen Finley’s memoir until the sun went down and it was too dark to read. I missed most of Breather’s set, which was intense, as Steve, the singer, dedicated the set to talking about his father’s attempted suicide, the suicide note that blamed him, and also blamed him for his mothers death, amongst some other things that were gutwrenching to hear. Dedicated the set for everyone else that has survived, been through that, is hanging on. For me, up til now, maybe even for some of the other folks in the bands on the tour, we liked Breather and just assumed they were just young youth making rough noise with an army of Sunns and Marshalls behind them… and here is this kid turning himself inside out, screaming, plowing into the floor, doubled over, screaming, screaming, plowing into the audience, screaming. And now I think "yeah, of course that’s what he is doing." It choked the rest of the bands up, and everyone put on incredibly intense sets, to honor what Steve said, to honor his honesty…
After the show, the Patterson brothers, some of Strike, all of Challenger and some stragglers all went to dinner. I sat between Pete, our roadie and Thomas, the singer from Strike while they discussed the addition of the CrimethINC table to the bevy of politico tabling happening at the shows. CrimethINC seems to be built around a magazine called Harbinger, and the cult of personality around it’s publisher, Brian. It’s percieved to be a fashiony-lifestyle version Americanized French Situationism, rather than a responsible response/introduction to anarchism/radicalism/revolutionary lifestyle – that it’s really just about taking, using and stealing. There was a lot of discussion amongst all the bands last night about people’s feeling about them tabling. I do not know enough to have an opinion – I gave up on Anarchy in 10th grade, when I realized all the bands sucked and anarchists have no sense of humour, as a general rule.
My only issue with materials on the CrimethINC table was one that was an article by a woman, advocating self-defense in order to feel safe in the world, advocating retaliatory violence as empowerment. Learn how to break someone’s nose = feel safe walking alone at night, that learning self-defense is ultimate resistance. I am pissed at anything that puts onus on victim, so I am hoping to hit a kinkos by tonight and jam out a "Don’t Rape" pamphlet for men, to balance things out. It will have a bolded headline: RESIST YOUR CULTURAL IMPARITIVE OF EXTREME PRIVILEDGE, BOYS! It will say: STOP THE PROBLEM BEFORE IT STARTS! And it will conclude with THINK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS YOU DO THAT MAY KEEP WOMEN FEEL UNSAFE AND SMALL IN THE WORLD! RESIST SO THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO!
It may not be a pamphlet, it might be a sticky note, it might be 31 pages.
There will be lots of exclamation point and strongly worded declaritive statements.
Tonight is Columbus.
Happy Mothers Day.
I wish my mom was on this tour. I could use some girl-company.
Week three with all the dudes, most of whom are deep-conversation, non dick-humour southern gentlemen –kind, smart and polite… none the less, I want some girlness around. The way I get that currently is hanging out by myself.
Back in to the Space Shuttle.
XO Baby Girl
5/6/04 5:31 pm CST, Kinko's on Washington , St. Louis, MO
Today was the first day of tour where I had no idea what day of the week it was other than I knew it was a work-week day by the traffic coming into St. Louis, home of Sylk Smoov. We loaded into the club, which has metal link yard-fencing around the bar, and all surfaces - floor, stage, tables, bar, bathroom floor, toilet seats, monitors - everywhere - is covered with some form of debris or barroom waste. It is about 86 degrees, so I was planning on being outside anyway.
Last night in Kansas City, we played a nice all ages space in a warehouse district, which had ornate tile inlay and the bar was about 80 feet long. It was across the street from what we guessed, by olfactory sense, was a dog food processing plant. Big silos pointed heavenward, filled with dog nutrition.
There were about 100 kids at the show. A young punk girl named Daisy came up and talked to me after the show, said it was good to see another girl playing more than just a few chords/bum-bum-bum on the bass in a band, and told me about her most recent band, The GutterFucks. If she is the only girl in a band I make the aquaintance of this entire tour, my evangelical/exampling work has been of use. I have been of purpose.
Otherwise, show was fine-ish, I played ok - was still nervous to play in front of the boyfriend, stage was extra high -- feet at eye level and I am so not into the heirarchy of the stage. Al jumped down in the last song and solo'd against the kids. They were clearly not ready for that. Also, There was a mirror running along the side of the stage - I caught a quick glimpse of myself in it, and was mortified. Note to self: Do not play shows with your hair down -- you look like yr in motherfucking White Zombie.
Today, boyfriend drove home to MN, so I am back to riding in the van with the boys. Dave bought his own iPod, so we are back to listening to the music of the white people. Tomorrow's show in Indy fell through last minute, and has been moved to either a skate park or "a 3 car garage with a 150 person capacity," which sounds like it will EASILY be the most shambolic punk fun ever, either way -- I got $2 on cops busting up either before we even play.
There is really nothing to be said for the Iowa City show. 100 kids.
Or, really Iowa. It's like Madison w/o all the dreadlocks or beer.
5/3/2004 7:24 CST, coffee shop playing Social D - Between Heaven and Hell
46th & Bryant, Minneapolis MN
I forgot about Minneapolis’ familiar sweetness. It’s casual innocence as a city. It’s sprouty spring lawns and it’s heavily sweatpanted indifference to fashion. The ever-welcoming vernacular of hometown. I forgot about Chicago's hard grift until I came back to it with eyes and body that had just borne 10 cities in rapid succession, in all their steel-belted radiance. I came back to Chicago and felt the weight of my house, it's attendent messes, it's dishes, it's laundry and it's boxes. I was ready to bail three minutes after I got in the door. I hung around long enough to take out the trash and exchange the outifts in my bag (as you do not need two belts on tour, really).
My mom’s house here in Mnpls is funny. She has all this girly-girl-girl stuffed exampled: Couture heels, 12 different kinds of conditioner ringing the tub ledge, issues of InStyle magazine, fragrant soap made from figs -- all of which kind of does nothing/ or the same thing / or the same nothing, as far as I am aware. Each visit home, I become briefly tantilized by all of it. I wind up in the bathroom putting a different kind of lotion on each foot, leg and hand -- as if someone just bussed me in from a foriegn land and I was like "ooooh, magic potions!" and start taking the caps off every exfoliating scrub masque and ayurvedic conditioning treatment and sniffing it like an animal does a scavenged carcass. I can be girly, but my mom, my sis, they are this brand of American consumer of feminine wiles and ways that I’m not, but am totally in awe of. It's like bunking with the two most popular girls at camp -- I get to see how they get Cinderella'd up. They both are a gorgeous slide show of imperial decorating schemes, long blonde hair, gregarious intellect and white-filter cigarettes.
As I mentioned to some folks already: Minneapolis punks are the only punks that really really look like punks. As opposed to the punks of Chicago who look like J Crew's spring sale rack. Kids here are all spikes and can beer -- the fems are all suicide girls of the apocolypse / Paul Bunyon blood stock -- sturdy looking, cleavage full of sailor tattoos, norse blondes done up jet black. I like the comfort of know who’s on what side, rather than the hipster fake outs of bigger cities endowed with a more unified, homogonized aesthetic of cool. The bar maidens at the club had extensive face tatooing, and I respect the down-for-life, fuck-the-world commitment of such an action.
Show last night at the Triple Rock was our best of tour. It was Paint it Black’s last night on the tour, there were no pranks, though Al told me that Colin from PIB tried to procure a stuffed parrot to try and put on my shoulder during the show ( I WISH!), to match my really tuff looking PIRATE STYLE BLACK EYE PATCH, which I wear when I am in the club to protect it's newly injured nature. I have been wearing tight fatigue-style looks to accompany the eyepatch -- army greens, camo hot pants ( no dog tags yet -- anyone wann hook me up?) because I want to look like I went AWOL to go on tour.
Chicago Record Release show at Fireside was packed, which I attribute entirely to the daring public nudity of my bandmates. According to Tara, the sound lady, we were the loudest show she has ever witnessed there. Show was fine. It's funny to be on stage some place where you have been to like... 400 shows -- and see the room from the one perspective point you have never seen from.
As of tomorrow, we bump up to middle slot and Louisville’s power-loud superstars, Breather Resist join up. In the meantime, enjoying the day off (the rest of the band headed back to Chi-town), tommorow, my boyfrnd and I head out, meet back up with the rest of Challenger for my first visit to the great state of Iowa.
Also, in other news, Challenger is suckin' up the oppurtunities laid to waste by the Denali break up, and thusly, will be hitting Japan for a six day tour end of May. Iowa City AND Osaka in the same month. It is super fun to be, in case you were wondering. FYI.
1: 16 pm CST, my office @ home, Chicago Il.
From Ashes Brad, who is casted and on crutches, was speaking last night of the most recent tour injury with is Andy Pants from Paint it Black, who managed to burn himself really really badly on a poptart, and thusly has huge white blisters on his bassplayin finger tiups. Brad spoke that whenever they meet someone named Rick James ( our soundman in Albany), or see someone missing a limb, bad things happen, it;s an omen -- injury, arrest, deportation, massive equipments failures on stage. We stood around the back of the van and laughed at the gimpiness that had spread to every van.
And then, 20 minutes later, in the back of the van loft, I scrape my right eye on the seam of a sleeping bag pad. No less than four minutes after that, I rip the cornea of my right eye on the zipper to my bag. I sleep on it for the four hours back to chicago, and then at 4:14 am, I put my finger on my eye lid, to hold it shut and that brought such excriciating pain, I punched the van, ceiling like some a fucking jock, a couple times, and started bawling terribly. Shortly there after I realized I did not have keys to my house, and once we dropped off the rest of the band at the band house, I had Al take me to the emergecy room at st. mary's, whom I, as an uninsured, still owe 1200$ for a fever I had 3 years ago.
I got some eye drops, so eyepatch, a bandage over one side of my face, and the other eye is riunged still in the orange dye they used to find the cut, with some minor bruisey/squintyness going on. I was realeased about 6:30, and droppd back to the band house, where everyone was having a rough time due to arriving home amidst some gang brawl, and Dave's gf Lauren, hours earlier had fsaw her naighboor shot and killed, more gang related shit. Everyone was freaked out.
Woke up this am, went to the drug store for the eye meds, which was tough even though it was only 2 blocks from the band house. I have no depth percetion and look totally crazy, especially since, as Al pointed out, I put on my sweater inside out and backwards. First person I run into looking like this: the ex bf I broke up with before tour, and clearly ruined his day by running into him. Not sweet. Not sweet at all. meanehile:
Eyedrops, eye antibiotic, eye patch, Snickers : $207.
Playing a show looking like you have a war injury: totally priceless.
Chicago, see you tonight. record release at the fireside. as they say in OLy wa : P.r.d.c.t., doggs. Tomorrow, Mnpls my home town.